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Tax and Business Regulation Checklist

As a self-employed sole trader, you don’t have an employer to take care of tax reporting, record keeping, and other essentials.

Maureen Ball - July 16, 2018


As a self-employed sole trader, you don’t have an employer to take care of tax reporting, record keeping, and other essentials. You’re in charge so you have to make sure you have all your tax and regulatory tasks are taken care of.

Here’s a checklist you can use to help you stay on track:

  • Apply for an ABN for your business once you are eligible (you are doing regular work for commercial purposes, not as an employee, with the intent to make a profit)
  • Keep track of all expenses and earnings, filing away receipts and invoices either digitally or physically so you can claim all your tax deductions
  • When you lodge your taxes, file as a self-employed sole trader – you’ll use your individual tax filing number when lodging your income tax; you don’t need a separate business tax number as a sole trader
  • You’ll need to register for and pay GST once your annual turnover is more than $75,000
  • For your personal super contributions, notify your fund to let them know you intend on claiming your contributions so you can claim them as a deduction when you lodge your income tax
  • Make sure you have the proper licences and meet any industry requirements that are specific to your field of work

Do I Need an ABN?

You don’t have to rush to get your Australian Business Number right away. But, if you plan on keeping up with your micro business, you’re better off getting it sooner rather than later as establishing it has advantages.

As a micro business owner, you can apply for your ABN number, which can then be used in all your business transactions. This makes it a lot easier for other businesses you may work with to confirm your details when it comes to ordering and invoicing. Having an ABN number is important not just for feeling like an official business but it will also set you up for success later on when you apply for both business financing and personal loans – like your mortgage.

When you apply for home loan financing as a self-employed borrower, you’ll want to demonstrate that you’ve been in business for a long time, ideally more than two years. If you don’t have tax returns as a sole trader and verifiable history as an operating business with your ABN, you’ll have a harder time qualifying for a good loan.

With an ABN, you can register a website for your businessas.com.au. You’ll also be able to lodge your taxes as a sole trader, which means you can take advantage of all those self-employed tax deductions.

You have to apply to get an ABN from the Australian Business Register and meet certain requirements:

  • You have to be operating in some type of commercial activity, selling a product or service. Whether you are selling your driving services or your coding skills, it doesn’t matter. As long as your intention is to make a profit and you have a business plan.
  • Whatever work you do is repeated – as in, you’re regularly doing the work or at least are building up towards that goal as you grow your list of clients.
  • Records are kept, namely financial bookkeeping.
  • You’re working in a similar way to others in your industry and have some level of knowledge or skill.

Basically, if you are applying for regular paying work you do that isn’t for an employer and isn’t a hobby, you are likely eligible for an ABN.

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